Yesterday (May 1), Virgin Galactic completed their first test flight of SpaceShipTwo’s new atmospheric re-entry system, which Virgin Galactic modified heavily after the failed test flight back in 2014, which destroyed the original craft.
The new version took off beneath the White Knight Two (WKT) carrier aircraft at around 10:40 AM local time/ 1:40 PM EDT / 5:40 PM GMT yesterday from the Mojave Air and Space Port, marking the fourth glide flight for the new version of the spacecraft.
40 minutes after launch, SpaceShipTwo’s pilots Mark Stucky and Mike Masucci took over the controls of the graft and released the craft from WKT at an altitude of about 51,000 feet.
They then went on to test that new re-entry system, which pivots the vehicle’s twin tail booms over the fuselage, which provides more surface area to create a shape similar to a capsule.
That results in a slower and safer plunge through the atmosphere.
When it is ready for operation, SpaceShipTwo will take up to six paying passengers and two pilots on short, suborbital flights beyond the atmosphere, allowing them to experience the feel of going into space, without going fully into space, but you will need a ticket to do so.
Each of these tickets will be priced at $250,000 per seat.